Imposing a sanction - deciding what is fair?

The first time a manager is given the responsibility to impose a sanction on an employee can be daunting, even for experienced managers. How do I make a decision? Where do I start? Who can help me?

The following case summaries focus on deciding the right sanction. They highlight the weighing and balancing involved in applying relevant factors in each case.

Handling Misconduct a human resource manager’s guide explains the range of factors that may be relevant to a sanction decision. The case summaries below demonstrate how the Merit Protection Commissioner applies the factors in Handling Misconduct to a case. The case summaries need to be read alongside the Handling Misconduct guide.

Section 7.3 lists the factors that may be relevant in deciding a sanction. Section 7.4 outlines when particular sanctions may be appropriate. There is also a helpful checklist at Appendix 10.

There is no formula for deciding a sanction and the decision maker needs to exercise judgement based on the circumstances of the individual case. However, there should be a degree of consistency within an agency on the sanctions imposed for the same type of misconduct. Sanction decisions across the Australian Public Service should also be broadly consistent.

When setting a sanction, it is useful to remember that the main objective of the misconduct regime in the Australian Public Service is not to punish but rather to safeguard the integrity of the agency and the Australian Public Service and maintain public confidence in public administration. Another main objective is to correct employee behaviour. Given these objectives, employees need to understand why a particular sanction has been imposed and clear reasons for the decision are important.

To access the individual case summaries click on the link below.